An injury at the quarterback position is the worst possible thing that can happen to an NFL team.
As a whole, the position league-wide is a mess, hence why teams line up year after year in a search for an answer in the draft.
This equates to one indisputable fact—there is no need for Cutler to rush back from a groin tear suffered in mid-October.
That seemingly was the plan after Chicago's Week 10 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Cutler was expected to start in Week 11 against Detroit:
From @mortreport: Bears QB Jay Cutler, who was projected to miss a minimum of four weeks, plans to play Sunday vs. the Detroit Lions.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 5, 2013
Thankfully, Cutler himself shot this notion down after the fact, as documented by Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune:
Jay Cutler on groin recovery: "I don't think we can say I'll be out there for Detroit." (per chat w @WaddleandSilvy)— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) November 5, 2013
Unfortunately, Cutler apparently followed that up with something that should make Bears' faithful cringe:
Jay Cutler aware he can't come back at less than 100 percent. But won't rule out chancing things at 90 percent.— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) November 5, 2013
Should Cutler risk his future health for one game against Detroit? Absolutely not. The answer is unequivocally a resounding "no."
As crazy as it sounds, the Bears do not need Cutler at the moment. Yes, the Week 11 battle with the Lions is for first place in the NFC North, but McCown has more than proven to be a capable stopgap solution:
|Week 7 at WAS||204||1||0||119.6|
|Week 9 at GB||272||2||0||90.7|
McCown's production is a byproduct of two factors—horrible pass defenses and Trestman's efficient and easy to digest offense that allows the quarterback to shine (perhaps Cutler, in a contract year, wants to rush back because of McCown's success?).
Washington ranks in the bottom five in pass defense, so McCown's 204 yards and a touchdown on short notice come as no surprise. A week of preparation for Green Bay's No. 20-ranked secondary made the 272 yards and two scores from McCown anticlimactic as well.
Now McCown gets a shot at a porous Detroit secondary ranked No. 26 in the NFL and has allowed quarterbacks to do this to it in recent weeks:
|Week 6 at CLE||Brandon Weeden||292||2||2|
|Week 7 vs. CIN||Andy Dalton||372||3||0|
|Week 8 vs. DAL||Tony Romo||206||3||0|
Yikes. We have a feeling Chicago will be just fine with McCown three weeks deep into Trestman's offense.
Flash back to Week 4 when Chicago traveled to Detroit and was sent home with a 40-32 loss after 317 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions from Cutler—not exactly an encouraging performance for the starter in the first place.
Now Detroit has to travel to Soldier Field and take on McCown, who is just hitting his stride.
Despite the obvious importance of the showdown with Detroit, Chicago will need Cutler back at full strength for Week 12 and 13, when the team takes on Baltimore and St. Louis, owners of the No. 14 and No. 9 pass defenses, respectively.
Statistics such as this used to ring true in Chicago:
Bears have averaged 23.6 PPG in Jay Cutler's 63 games since 2009, averaged 14.4 PPG in the 8 games Cutler missed— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 5, 2013
Should Cutler play vs. Detroit if not 100 percent healthy?
Not anymore thanks to a new offense. In two games with McCown under center in Trestman's offense against weak defenses, Chicago has scored 41 and 27 points.
As crazy as it sounds, Chicago will fare well without its franchise quarterback against a divisional rival. But not after when the schedule picks back up.
Cutler must sit in Week 11 while the Bears ride Matt Forte (216 rushing yards, four touchdowns past two games) and the arm of McCown.
There's no sense in risking further injury at this stage of the season, as the team will need a 100 percent Cutler under center later in the year.